Murder victims' families show support for Gov. Scott

Family members plan to file brief with Florida Supreme Court

By Mark Lehman - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Family members of several victims in high-profile murder cases are officially showing support for Florida Gov. Rick Scott's decision to remove Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala from death penalty cases.

A motion filed late Thursday with the Florida Supreme Court shows plans to file an amicus brief, which would formally announce support for Scott.

The families of both Sade Dixon and Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton are listed in the document.

Markeith Loyd, 43, is accused of murdering Dixon, his pregnant ex-girlfriend, and Clayton, who weeks later was attempting to apprehend him outside a Walmart in Orlando.

The support of Scott from Dixon's mother, Stephanie Dixon-Daniels, is a stark contrast to her remarks in March after Ayala announced she would not seek the death penalty against Loyd.

"I would love for him to die right now, but that's not going to happen," Dixon-Daniels said at the time.  "So seeking the death penalty is not an option. Either way it goes, he will die in prison."

Dixon-Daniels family attorney Greg Jackson said his clients are in support of Ayala remaining in office as the first African-American female state attorney in the state, but they do want to make sure Loyd is punished to the fullest extent of the law if convicted.

Jackson said family members have felt a void in their lives since the loss of Sade Dixon.

"I speak the family on a daily basis I hear the children in the background every time missing their mom," Jackson said. "I hear the family, I hear it in their voice, that there is a lot of pain there that has taken place because the love of their daughter."

Family members from other notable Central Florida cases are also listed in the document, including Elena Wilson, the daughter of Elana Ortega, who police say was killed by Juan Rosario. 

Montina Samuel, the aunt of Jamine Samuel, is supporting Scott's decision as well. Samuel was allegedly shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend, David Payne.  Samuel died in the trunk of her car while speaking to a 911 dispatcher.

Also listed is Rosalie Joseph, the mother of Alexandria Chery, who was allegedly killed by Sanal Saint Simon in 2014.

Thursday's motion asked a judge to give family members until May 3 to file the brief.

Retired judge O.H. Eaton Jr., along with about 40 other judges and attorneys, filed a brief in support of Ayala. They argue that Scott is overstepping his authority in this case.

"If the governor can interfere with a decision like whether or not to seek the death penalty, then the governor can interfere with any prosecutorial decision that he disagrees with and that takes away the whole basis for a centralized criminal justice system," Eaton Jr. said.

Scott issued a statement saying he stands by his decision to strip murder cases from Ayala.

“Governor Scott stands by his decision to assign State Attorney Brad King to prosecute Markeith Loyd after State Attorney Ayala refused to recuse herself. Markeith Loyd is accused of executing Lt. Debra Clayton, a brave law enforcement hero who was on the ground fighting for her life, and murdering his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon. Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy Norman Lewis was also killed while actively searching for Loyd. As Governor Scott has continued to say, these families deserve a state attorney who will aggressively prosecute Loyd to the fullest extent of the law and justice must be served,” Scott said. 

Ayala would not comment on the recent filings.

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